One night this spring, you might walk up to a stranger, offer a book and change a life.
That’s the message of World Book Night, a fanning-out to take place across the United States on April 23.
The date seems far off. But the time is now, said Cindy Turner, to sign up to be what’s called a “giver.”
At www.WorldBookNight.org, registration is under way — through Monday only — for people who want to hand out free copies of 30 selected novels at homeless shelters, teen centers, senior centers and other gathering places.
The deadline to sign up is 11:59 p.m. Monday.
Two dozen publishing houses and booksellers’ associations are sponsoring World Book Night, which means they’re funding the free books.
They’re producing special-edition paperbacks to be designated not for sale, said Turner, who with her husband, Alan, owns Port Book and News at 104 E. First St. in Port Angeles.
Turner learned of World Book Night last month after attending the American Booksellers Association Winter Institute in New Orleans and seized the opportunity to be a distribution site once the books are shipped here.
“When all the books come in, we’ll have a pickup party,” Turner said.
Staffers at Imprint Books in Port Townsend and Pacific Mist Books in Sequim had yet to hear details about World Book Night.
And Carl Lennertz, organizer of the nationwide project, was still finalizing other distribution sites late last week.
Prospective book givers, when they sign up on www.WorldBookNight.org, are asked to select three books from the list of 30.
The choices are varied: Sherman Alexie’s National Book Award winner The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Stephen King’s The Stand, Patti Smith’s Just Kids, Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Because of Winn Dixie by Rebecca DiCamillo, Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger, Q is for Quarry by Sue Grafton and 21 other novels are this year’s selections.
One title, 20 copies
World Book Night organizers will assign one title — and 20 copies of it — to each giver.
“They want people to actually hand them out” to one person at a time, Turner said.
Givers can go to a place such as Serenity House’s Dream Center, 535 E. First St., for example. They can meet and give books to the young people there, rather than just rush in and drop off all 20.
World Book Night, like the World Series, isn’t quite worldwide, but it is moving in that direction; the project started last year in Europe and comes to America for the first time April 23.
That date is UNESCO’s World Book Day, coinciding with the anniversaries of Miguel de Cervantes’ death and William Shakespeare’s birth.
“It’s completely free,” Turner emphasized.
For book givers, “it doesn’t cost anything but their time.”
The goal this year is to give 1 million books to a million people and for “tens of thousands of people [to] go out into their communities to spread the joy and love of reading,” according to the World Book Night website.
People can hand out their books during the day, too, Turner added.
All that’s needed now, she said, are the givers.
“How fun will this be?” she said.
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.